Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (14 March 1865)

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Date: 1865-03-14
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 1032 & “Provincial Parliament”, [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (15 March 1865).
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Note: All endnotes come from our recent publication, Charles Dumais & Michael Scott (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada (CCF, 2022).

Click here to view the rest of the Confederation Debates.

At the hour appointed, Mr. Speaker and the House attended upon His Excellency [Viscount Monck] with the Address to Her Majesty on the subject of the Union of the British North American Provinces.

And being returned, Mr. Speaker reported that the House had waited on His Excellency [Viscount Monck] with the Address to Her Majesty on the subject of the Union of the British North American Provinces, to which His Excellency [Viscount Monck] had been pleased to make the following answer:—

Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen:

I learn with much satisfaction that you have adopted an Address to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the Union of the British North American Provinces I shall have much pleasure in transmitting it to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in order that it may be presented to the Queen.

The Supplies[1]

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] moved

That the House go into Committee of Supply

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] was understood to ask whether it was intended that the estimates just submitted would be considered now in Committee.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] replied in the affirmative, and went on to explain that the course respecting votes of credit had been somewhat various. There was one course observed in England, and two or three different courses in Canada. The course the Government now intended to take was the one it considered best, under the circumstances, and most constitutional. It was the course which the Government of Mr. Baldwin adopted in 1848.

In this case, the Government proposed to prorogue the House, shortly, and, therefore, it was desirable that the other branch of the Legislature should have its constitutional right to revise the proceedings of the House in reference to the passage of the Supply Bill. That being the case, he was not aware that anything would be gained by a delay of what he felt to be a correct vote; and he therefore proposed with a view of expediting the business of the House, to move that the Speaker now leave the Chair, and that the House go into Committee of Supply, in order that we might give the explanations and reasons why the Government asks the supply.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] contended that this was an exceptional case, and that those explanations should be given before the Speaker leave the Chair.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] thought the first point raised by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] was fully met by the Government on a recent occasion. The reasons that induced the Government to propose this course were fully stated by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] quite recently. He (Mr. Galt) therefore did not think the Government were called on to add anything to the general explanations of their policy which had been already given.

After some further discussion—

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] asked whether it was the intention of the Finance Minister [Alexander Galt] to give to the House the full information in the possession of the Government relative to defence question?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said that if the hon. gentleman would only allow the House to go into Committee he would hear the reasons which induced the Government to place this sum for the permanent defence of the country on the Estimates, and he believed these reasons would be found wholly satisfactory.

The motion for the House in Committee of Supply was then carried, and the House went into Committee, Thomas Street [Welland] in the Chair.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] then said:—In proceeding to move in Committee the adoption of two resolutions, which embrace the estimates that have been brought down by a message from His Excellency [Viscount Monck], I think it proper that I should explain somewhat fully the causes which have induced the Government to ask Supplies to be voted in this particular form. I do not propose to enter into a full financial statement. Such a statement would more properly come in the Committee of Ways and Means, when it may be desirable that I should offer to the House information with regard to the income, revenue and resources of the Province, in making provision for the vote which the House may now pass. But I do not think it is necessary on the present occasion that I should enter on that branch of the subject, which would more properly be dealt with when at a future state I have the honor, with the concurrence of the House, to make provision for the vote of Supply in Committee of Ways and Means.

I shall endeavor, therefore, on this occasion to confine myself to the two resolutions which are in your hands. And first let me refer to the vote of two millions for the remaining service of 1864-’65. I may state that the Government, in bringing down these Estimates, have had in view only the ordinary expenditures, with such exceptions as I shall point out. It has been felt by the Government that it would not be proper for them, in asking the House for authority to disburse this large sum of money, to seek to apply it to objects which have not been under the consideration of the House heretofore and have not been voted upon by the House. But there is one branch of expenditure which is so important that it is proper I should state to the Committee the extent to which the Government intend to make provision.

I refer to the expenditure for the protection of the frontier by the volunteer force, and for the maintenance also a police force on the frontier. The House has already voted the sum necessary to maintain that force on the frontier up to the 1st of May. It is also the opinion of the Government, that the police force which has been sent there, and whose services have been productive of great benefit, will also require to be maintained. Therefore the Government have felt bound to include a reference to them in the amount for which they have asked, up to the 1st of July, and for the succeeding three months. At the same time it is my duty to state that, unless further exigencies than we now foresee should arise, it may not be necessary to maintain the whole of the force during that time. It would not be proper, however, to allow Parliament to separate without receiving from it authority to maintain that force on the frontier, which in the past we have found it necessary to have there.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I may state that the sum required for this purpose, in addition to what has already been voted in committee, is $350,000. This is a portion of the two millions, and is the sum we propose to hold for the payment of the frontier force from the 1st May to the 30th September. As regards the expenditure for the police force, it will naturally occur to the Committee that it has been somewhat considerable. But the Government are of opinion that so long as the present disturbed state of the frontier exists, so long as the American war lasts, we must have a force on the frontier, in the shape of a police force, and also in the shape of a militia force, to support the civil authority, in order that we may fulfil the obligations we are under to act the part of good neighbors towards the United States.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The rest of the vote is for the usual expenditure of Civil Government and the ordinary outlay which will be required within the Province during the first quarter of the year. The only item which has been in the contemplation of the Government beyond the ordinary expenditure is a small grant for the purpose of enabling the Province to be represented at the World’s Fair to be held in Dublin. For this purpose it had been proposed to bring down the usual Estimates a vote of $5,000. I may also state that, in compliance with the undertaking entered into with the House last session, that before any vote was asked for Charities, the whole subject, and a variety of evidence connected with it, should be brought under the revision of the House, the Government have felt it to be their duty to withhold for the present until the House meets again, the voting of the usual sums for those objects.

In doing so the Government do no pronounce any opinion that those grants should be withheld; but they consider that, in accordance with the engagement entered into with the House, the required information as to all those Charities should be submitted to Parliament, and they do not wish to assume the payment of that money until authority is given. There will be, therefore, some delay in making the payment of these sums, which are usually paid some time in July. If from any cause the House does not meet in July, there will of course be further delay until the House can vote such sums as they choose for these purposes. The Government, however, hope to be able to meet Parliament before the end of the financial year, and in that case little or no delay can arise.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What about the supplementary grant for Education?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—With reference to education, the same remark applies. A certain statutory provision is made for education. That statutory provision will of course be disbursed in the usual way. But there is also a sum of money usually voted for the support of Superior Education in Lower Canada, and in Upper Canada. The Government have considered that matter, and think the grant for these purposes can with advantage be postponed, until the next meeting of the House, inasmuch as that meeting will take place before the money is usually expended—and besides there was an arrangement, the same as with reference to the Hospitals and Charities, that the subject of Superior Education should be fully considered, and information with respect to it laid before Parliament. In compliance with that engagement, the Government do not intend to take upon themselves the responsibility of disbursing the sums usually paid.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Have the Hospitals and Charities been paid up to the 30th June?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—They have been paid for the current year, by the sums I am speaking of belong to the Supplies for the year commencing 1st July next. We believe they will be paid in July, but on consequence of the engagements with the House to which I have referred, the Government do not propose to include them in the general vote of credit.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The hon. gentleman has stated the aggregate sum for the militia and police. Will he please mention the amount for each?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I stated merely the amount for the militia. For the police, it is estimated that $25,000 will be required as the cost of services under the Extradition Treaty. There is also an estimate of $42,000 for the detective police.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—What will be the expense for the militia generally, apart from the cost of the special service on the frontier?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—$350,000 will be ample both for the maintenance of the force on the frontier, and for all the ordinary militia expenses, besides those fixed by Militia Act[2].

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I understood the hon. gentleman to say he does not intend to make any expenditure whatever other than those usually submitted to Parliament. It would be remembered that last year a good deal of credit was claimed for the amended Audit Bill[3] introduced which was to restrain the Government from effecting any expenditure without the specific sanction of Parliament. Well that bill had scarcely been in operation six months, during which its provisions could scarcely be said to be fairly tried, before the Government asked us for authority to appropriate sums of money en bloc. They were forbidden making any expenditures under the Audit Act[4] without the sanction of the House, but this vote of credit would authorize them to pay out such sums of money as they deemed fit.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Now it is because the Audit Bill has been a most effective act, that the Government, instead of proceeding as has been done over and over again formerly to prorogue Parliament and then going on by their on authority solely to spend money, are obliged to come to Parliament and ask its sanction to their expenditures. It is not because we do not expect that parliament will meet in time, but because the Audit Act stands in the way of the Government’s making any unauthorized expenditures.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—You are suspending it now.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—We are not. I would like to know how we are over-riding the Audit Act in asking the House to repose that confidence in the Government necessary to enable it to carry on the business of the country, and give it that Supply Bill requisite to that purpose.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—You are getting rid of the provisions of that act.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Nothing of the kind. In order to be sure that no detriment to the public service may arise, we ask the House to give us credit so that we may carry on the Government of the country until the 20th of September. The Government would be wanting in its duty if it hesitated to ask the House to give them the necessary authority to meet the requirements of the public service during that time. But, supposing the Government, instead of asking for two million dollars, had asked for only five hundred thousand dollars, surely they would have been able to misspend this appropriation as well as the larger one.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The Government believe the necessities of the country require them to ask this act of confidence on the part of the House. We believe it is for the interest of the country that certain subjects should be prominently brought before the Imperial Government without loss of time. In that belief we ask Parliament to arm us with those powers, and I trust they will give them to us—

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—and that they will not be led aside by such feeble arguments as those of the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], in raising a doubt whether the Government will fulfil its duty to Parliament—a duty which will require us to come down to this House and shew what we have done with every penny they have voted. It is to be supposed this House will not take strict cognizance of what is done under this vote? The Government propose that a detailed statement of the expenditure under this vote shall be brought down at the next meeting of Parliament.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What remedy is there if you do wrong?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—There is the political remedy—and, if we are guilty of malversation of office, there is another remedy, and a more severe one. The Government run far more risk in this matter than the House. When they ask the House for the right to assume responsibility, if they err under that responsibility, they imperil their position and run the risk of being turned out of Parliament. But in coming down in the way they do, the Government are giving the strongest pledge they could give to the people of this country, that they feel their responsibility and do not shrink from it.

Joseph Dufresne [Montcalm] asked if the Government included in the vote of credit the amount for colonization purposes.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I have no difficulty in answering that question. The expenditure for colonization roads has been so long regularly voted by Parliament that it may be considered now part of our ordinary expenditure. The Government have had it in contemplation in the Estimate now sent down.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What amount?

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The amount will be according to the vote of 1864, but we know perfectly well that the whole of the money will not be spent in three months.

John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—The House will have the control of that subject.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Of course it will.

Joseph Perrault [Richelieu] was understood to ask whether this vote would include a grant to the Board of Agriculture.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said the grant will be given to the Board of Agriculture as usual. I now propose to offer a few remarks in regard to the important question of the vote asked for the permanent defence of the country. In referring to this subject, which is certainly the most important that could be considered in this country, it is perhaps necessary I should enter into a little explanation.

When my friend the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] stated the other day that the Government felt that the vote at the recent elections in New Brunswick had rendered it necessary that a delegation of members of the Canadian Administration should visit England, he referred at that time to the question of defence as being more or less mixed up with Confederation.

I may state that in the communications which have passed between the Government of Canada and the Imperial Government on the question of defence, the subject of what might be or should be the relative duties of the colonies and the mother-country in this respect has been postponed. The consideration of that subject was felt to be one which could be more properly taken up by the Confederated Provinces than by the Colonies singly.

For that reason it was considered that under Confederation there would be offered the most favorable opportunity of considering this subject in concert with the Imperial Government. The effect of the partial delay which it may be expected will arise from the result of the elections in New Brunswick has shewn that the whole question of Confederation may be further delayed for a certain time; but it was considered that the question of defence could not therefore be left in abeyance.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It was felt that the defence of the country is a matter which requires the instant and urgent attention of the Government at all times, and it was considered that the Canadian Government would be failing in its duty if, from any cause, it allowed delay in reference to this important matter to take place. Therefore those points which it was thought required to be discussed between the Imperial Government and the Government of the Confederation, in reference to the general relations which the colonies should bear towards the mother-country in the matter of defence have, owing to the anticipated delay which may arise, assumed an appearance that requires the Government of this Province to approach the Imperial Government in order to obtain a decision on this very important subject. The members of this House have all read the debate which took place in the House of Lords recently, and remember the statement made by the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] on the receipt of the telegram giving us information on the subject, to the effect that that report was no correct as regards the amount stated to have been voted for putting the defences in order.

Now, the position which the Canadian Government assumed towards the Imperial Government relative to the defence of the country was this:—The defence of these colonies must depend on the united action of the Empire and the Colonies. It is perfectly plain that no one who considers the position of Canada, as a country which is not wealthy, and whose inhabitants depend as it were on their daily labor for the support of their families, would be ill able to undertake the financial burthen of a war with such a great power as the United States, unless the empire is prepared to assume what would be regarded as a fair proportion of this liability, under such lamentable circumstances.

It is quite plain that the demand on this country to undertake alone the duty of defence is one which whatever may be the disposition in Canada—and I believe there is a strong disposition on the part of all in the country to do their duty to maintain their political institutions intact, it would be impossible for them to do so unaided.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The Government of Canada cannot—on considering this question, on considering the liability which would have to be assumed by the country under such circumstances—lose sight of the position in which the trade, commerce and credit of this country are situated. It is perfectly plain that the war raging in the United States has seriously affected every one of these interests. It has injured our trade, diminished our commerce and revenue, and seriously affected our credit. Under these circumstances the position in which Canada is called upon to contribute largely and liberally is, I am sure, one surrounded with a great deal of difficulty. It is quite plain that the Government of Canada cannot go on the mere security or credit of this country in the London market for a war loan, which is practically an announcement to the capitalists of England that hostilities between the United States and Canada are considered imminent, without adding to that depreciation which has already taken place in our securities, now below 80 in the London market.

Therefore any expenditure which Canada may feel called upon to assume in the fulfillment of what must be regarded as her engagements towards the Empire—any expenditure which this Government shall contract, with reference to this subject, must be on the understanding that this will be sustained by the Imperial credit. It is plain that if we look to the unaided efforts of Canada in such a struggle, the difficulties will appear insurmountable; and it is felt that, in asking the Imperial guarantee for the sums which might be required for the defence of this country, Canada was asking no more than what the Empire would be ready to give the other colonies.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Canada would be called upon to make the greatest sacrifices—she would have to expose her sons to battle and her daughters to indignity, her industry to be subjected to complete paralysis; and under these circumstances the necessary securities for the expenses she may enter upon may fairly be asked to be guaranteed at the hands of our fellow-subjects in a happier portion of the Empire. Under such circumstances we surely had a right to ask that the credit of the country should be sustained by the Empire. It is evident that any war that might affect Canada must be a war that will arise from Imperial causes. We share with the other portions of the Empire in the blessings of peace, and I am sure no one is prepared to shrunk from the burthen that may be entailed upon us in the defence of the dignity of the Empire in the event of war.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—But when we admit our liability in this respect it cannot be denied there is a mutual responsibility on the part of other portions of the Empire to do their duty towards us. If by the accident of our position we are to become the battle-field in the event of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States, we are entitled to ask of our fellow-subjects in England that they share the risks and share the expenses.

Some Hon. Members—Hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Of course I will not go into any details after the statement of the Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]; but quite enough has been given in the report of Col. Jervois[5] to show that a very considerable outlay must be made to enable the partially trained troops of this country to retain the military occupation of the Province. My hon. friend reminds me that the report refers to both east and west; but the Government feel that their responsibility extends much further than this report of Col. Jervois comprises. The responsibility rests on the Government of giving protection not to one part of the Province or to the other, but to every man in the country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It has been asked why no answer has been made to the report. Answers have been made, negotiations are going on, and it is because these are still going on that the Government are desirous of proceeding to England to press them to an issue. The Government take this ground that the expense should be assured in part by the Imperial Government and under an Imperial guarantee. I have no hesitation in saying that difficulties have arisen in obtaining that guarantee, and unless these difficulties are removed the government are not prepared to say that this million of dollars will be expended on these works. But it is most important, in the opinion of the Government, as it has been said that Canada is unwilling to do her share in the defence of the country, that their hands should be strengthened, so that they may proceed to England and show the Imperial authorities that the people of this Province are willing to meet any fair demand made upon them. It is with that view that this grant is asked,—with a view of enabling the Government to go to England and show the people there that this country is prepared to take its share of the British Empire.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Of course the Government is not going to enter into engagements which are not subject to the sanction of the Parliament of Canada; but is absolutely necessary that the views of the Imperial Government should be compared with those of the Provincial Government, and when this has been done it will then be the duty of the Provincial Government to meet parliament and lay these views before it. And I trust, and believe, that notwithstanding what may be said in the press or elsewhere, we shall find in England, in the heart of old England, what desire to sustain this portion of the Empire which has always hitherto been manifested.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—And I think that the time has come when it is necessary that that frank explanation should be had, for if the tone which has prevailed in England of the colonies being only a burthen to the mother-country it is to continue, it is time that we should know it.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—It is well that the people of England should know that we do not go to them as mendicants, but prepared to assume our share of the duties of defence devolving upon us as a portion of the Empire.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I believe, and the Government believes, that the people of this country are willing to make any sacrifice in their power to maintain their connection with Great Britain. We believe that that in the position of every man in the country, and it is in that belief that we will carry out such engagements as may be entered into for the defence of the country.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Am I to understand the hon. gentleman that no part of this money will be expended until the Government meets Parliament again.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—Certainly not. If the House votes the money it places it at the disposition of the Government for works of defence. Otherwise it would be a perfect mockery to go to England. Whatever may be required for works of general defence, which will be submitted to Parliament before the Government takes any action, in asking this vote the Government intend to exercise their discretion to expend it or not as the public interests may require. And in no other way could we do our duty. The position of England is this, they want to see that the people of this country are willing to undertake the responsibility of providing for their own protection, and when we show that we are prepared to do that, if we are not met in a similar spirit it will be time then for this country to consider the future. But I trust that the feeling exhibited in the press that the Colonies, not only Canada, but all the Colonies, are merely burthens to the Empire, will be found to be only skin deep, and that when the necessity arises she will be found ready as she always has been found ready to perform whatever her position in regard to us as a portion of the Empire demands at her hands.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—The question of defence is not merely confined to the erection of certain works. That is only one means of defence which will have to be resorted to. Any one who looks at the Western portion of the Province must see that the great lakes there will have to be defended; that the defence of that portion of the country requires that gun-boats should be placed on these lakes. Well, the Province of Canada is not able, and cannot be expected to place gun-boats on those lakes, but the Empire is. All those points have to be met and considered with the Imperial Government, so that we may not be thrust into a position which it would only be an idle sacrifice for the people of this country to try to endure.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I will not enlarge upon this point, but will only say that the Government feel that when the Imperial Government has come down with £200,000 stg.—though they only propose to expend £50,000 this year—this House will show that it is willing to go even beyond what the Empire has done; for if the defence of this country is to depend upon the petty vote of £50,000 a year, then it may be better to adopt the words of one who is no longer among us, but who occupies a seat on the Bench, and say that the best armament for this country is no armament at all.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance]—I trust that this House will arm the Government, by a unanimous vote, to show that the people of Canada are in earnest in this matter. I trust that the taking of this vote without a dissentient voice will show to the people of England that now when the danger is before us we are ready to bear our share of it; that we clothe our Government with power, and ask them to unite their resources with our resources; and with these means united in the defence of this country, I am perfectly certain that we can resist any attack that may be made upon us, from whatever quarter it may come.

Some Hon. MembersCheers.

John Cameron [Peel] said that so long as we were British subjects it was out duty to vote not only a million of dollars, but the largest amount we possibly could towards the defences of the country. He believed if we voted this million of dollars, it would place our Government in the best possible position to obtain the Imperial guarantee. If those members of our Government who went to England, had this vote of credit with them to shew the good will of the people of Canada, in the matter of defence, he believed it would dispel any false impression which might exist in the mother-country on the subject of our willingness to defend the country, and would induce the Imperial Government to do their share towards the defences of Canada.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

John Cameron [Peel]—He trusted there would be no difference of opinion on this subject.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] said it was not fair to insinuate that hon. gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House were throwing any obstacles in the way of measures for defence, whereas all we did was ask for explanations on the subject of the burthens which we were going to undertake. We were entitled to know whether this millions of dollars was a fifth part or a twentieth part of what was to be required of us. The hon. gentleman went on to say that, notwithstanding the clamor which hon. gentlemen opposite raised respecting their alleged desire to make provision for the proper defence of the country, yet the measure that had been introduced by hon. gentlemen on this side, while they were in office, proved most effective—far better than the celebrated Lysons’ Bill[6] which would have imposed such burthens upon the country.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] said that the millions of dollars was not a payment on account at all; it was a sum placed at the disposal of the Government for the general defence of the country.

Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga] went on to contend that we should know what was demanded of us.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East] said it was in the character of minds such as those of the hon. member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] not be satisfied even with the lucid explanation of the Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander Galt]. He desired to join issue with the hon. gentleman as to the merits of the Lysons’ Bill[7]. All that was good in the present act, for which hon. gentlemen claimed so much credit, was taken from the Lysons’ Bill.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Had the latter bill become law, instead of being dependent upon a few thousand volunteers in the towns, we should have had a large body of militia organized in every one of the eighteen military districts in which the country was to be divided. We would have had this advantage at a cost of some four hundred or five hundred thousand dollars per annum.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and Opposition cries of oh, oh.

George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—He repeated, we would have been enabled to train twenty-five thousand of our militia every year, with his outlay. The advantages of the act of hon. gentlemen opposite was confined to the military schools throughout the country, the benefits of which he at once cordially admitted, and the few thousand volunteers in the city, whereas with the Lysons’ Bill, as it was called, the training would not have been confined to the officers, but would have been general, and would have given us an organized militia. An expenditure of $260,000 would have been required the first year for armories, but after that a sum of $400,000 or $500,000 would have sufficed for the annual expenditure on the militia force.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

It being six o’clock the Speaker left the Chair.

The Legislative Assembly stopped for dinner recess.

After the recess—

The House again went into Committee of Supply.

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] asked that the first resolution for the $2,000,000, for the general expenses, be read.

The Chairman read the resolution.

1. Resolved, That there be granted, for the completion of the several services of the Government, not otherwise provided for, for the remainder of the Financial year ending 30th June, 1865, and for the first quarter of the year ending 30th June, 1866, a sum not exceeding $2,000,000.00.[8]

Luther Holton [Chateauguay] demanded the particulars of the bulk sum for which a vote was sought.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] gave the required explanation, and a sort of conversational discussion ensued on the details or items of the estimate.

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] complained that it was wrong to ask us to vote this large amount of money without letting us know what burthens we should have to bear. The hon. gentleman was beginning at the wrong end. He was putting the cart before the horse, inf act. It would have been but common fairness to let us know how it was proposed to meet this heavy sum for which a vote of credit was sought.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] pointed out that the course he took was in perfect accordance with British Parliamentary practice.

A lengthy debate of a rather discursive nature on the relative merits of the Lysons’ Bill and the present Militia Act[9] ensured, in which Hon. Messrs. J.S. Macdonald, Cartier, Galt, and Messrs. Cartwright, A. Mackenzie and others took part.

David Jones [Leeds South] complained that nothing, so to speak, had been done for the country volunteers, while everything was done for the benefit of the city volunteers. He had been connected with the volunteers since the Trent difficulty[10], and he could say that in his own locality there were two as efficient companies as any in the Province, yet they actually had not a place in which to drill.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Jones [Leeds South]—This was not fair, inasmuch as the country volunteer corps were more useful than those in the cities—they were formed of farmers and farmers’ sons who were permanent residents of the localities, and not mechanics and others who were here to-day and away to-morrow, like so many of the city volunteers. They were provided with a suit of clothing, it was true, but they were subjected to a variety of incidental expenses to which the encouragement afforded them bore no proportion whatever. From forage caps to drill-sheds they had to bear the cost themselves.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

David Jones [Leeds South]—This was not as it ought to be. The country volunteers should to say the least, have the same advantages as those of the cities, yet each successive Government extended too little consideration to the volunteers in the country districts. In conclusion, he would vote for the item of one million dollars for the permanent defence of the country, and he only regretted that it was not two millions of dollars, so that our representatives could go home and say to the Imperial Government, that while they only proposed to grant a small sum of fifty thousand pounds for the defence of this colony, we were willing to give five hundred thousand pounds.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear, and cheers.

Frederick Haultain [Peterborough] thought the question was one of a great importance and which should be discussed in a very temperate spirit. He would vote cheerfully for the appropriation of one million dollars for defensive purposes, believing such a step was necessary in the interests of the country. He was ashamed to hear of so paltry a sum having been voted in the British Parliament for the defence of Canada, for which so large an amount was required. He did not think that the present volunteer system was adequate to our wants.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Frederick Haultain [Peterborough]—He did not think that the present force of volunteers was sufficient for the defence of the country and that the desultory course of training now given was at all calculated to create an efficient force. He believed that a certain number of men should receive a continuous training to fit them for the duties of an effective militia.

Some Hon. Members—Hear, hear.

Frederick Haultain [Peterborough]—No explanations as to the form or manner in which the million dollars should be spent out to be asked from the Government.

Thomas Scatcherd [Middlesex West] also spoke upon the question, in opposition to the vote in question for the purposes of defence.

François Evanturel [Quebec County] was glad to see that the Government asked for this money in order to put the country in a proper state of defence; but if he thought the Government would be required to expend it before knowing what was our portion of the burthen of defence to be borne by the whole of the Empire, he would vote against it. He thought, however, the present vote would have the effect of bringing about a settlement as to the relative proportion we were to bear of the expense of the defence.

The first item of the Estimates was carried.

1. Resolved, That there be granted, for the completion of the several services of the Government, not otherwise provided for, for the remainder of the Financial year ending 30th June, 1865, and for the first quarter of the year ending 30th June, 1866, a sum not exceeding $2,000,000.00.[11]

On the second item, being the sum of one million dollars, for the permanent defence of the country,[12]

John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall] objected to the incurring of debts, or laying on of burdens to provide for such a contingency as war, of which there was no immediate danger. The best way to act was to avoid heaping up a national debt, but to treasure our resources so that when the time came for incurring expense to resist the aggressor, the country might be strong and comparatively wealthy.

John Macdonald [Toronto West] was not prepared to incur the responsibility of voting against this proposed appropriation. He would vote for the money and hold Ministers responsible for tis expenditure.

The Committee then rose and reported the resolutions as carried.

Alexander Galt [Sherbrooke, Minister of Finance] then moved

That concurrence in the resolutions be taken to-morrow afternoon at three p.m.



[1]      Starting at “The Supplies” is a supplementary addition we have included. Source: “Provincial Parliament,” [Quebec] Morning Chronicle (Mar. 15, 1865). There’s also a small debate in between Monck’s answer and “The Supplies” that is unrelated to Confederation, but can be read at the link provided.

[2]      An Act Respecting the Militia (Province of Canada, 1863). The Act was also amended slightly in 1864 with An Act to amend the Acts “respecting the Militia,” and the “Volunteer Militia Force” (Province of Canada, 1864).

[3]      The bill would become An Act to amend the law respecting the Public Accounts, and the Board of Audit (Province of Canada, 1864).

[4]      ibid.

[5]      William Jervois, Report on the Defence of Canada (1864).

[6]      The Lysons’ Bill refers to the Militia Bill that was presented by John A. Macdonald to the Assembly in the 1862 Session. Col. Daniel Lysons was appointed in January 1862 along with John A. Macdonald and others to a Commission mandated to re-organize the Canadian military force in light of the increasing danger of conflict with the United States. The bill was defeated in its second reading, and the Premier, George-Étienne Cartier, tendered his resignation. Col. Lysons was closely associated with the proposed Militia Bill. See Col. D. Lysons, Parting Words on the Rejected Militia Bill (1862).

[7]      Supra footnote 7.

[8]      Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada (1865), p. 213.  Inserted for completeness.

[9]      An Act Respecting the Militia (Province of Canada, 1863). Supra footnote 2.

[10]    The ‘Trent Affair’ refers to the U.S. seizure of the British mail steamer RMS Trent and the arrest of two confederate diplomats James M. Mason and John Slidell, and two under-secretaries, in November 1861. Prince Albert demanded reparations, an apology, and the immediate release of the four Southerners. As tense diplomatic notes were exchanged through the autumn of 1861, British North American feared and prepared for possible war. Imperial reinforcements were provided to the colony in December. War was suddenly averted with the release of the southern diplomats and secretaries.

[11]    Reinserted for clarity. Supra footnote 8.

[12]    The full resolution reads, “2. Resolved, That there be granted for the permanent Defences of the Country, a sum not exceeding $1,000,000.00.” Supra footnote 8.

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